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Pillay: ACC Counselling Delays For Sexual Abuse Victims Are Unacceptable

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Lynne Pillay
Lynne Pillay

ACC figures show victims of sexual abuse are being left in limbo and without counselling for months while it delays decisions about whether their claims will be accepted, says Labour's Victim's Rights spokesperson Lynne Pillay.

"The (attached) figures show a steep rise in the number of sensitive claims waiting to be resolved by ACC around the country and fewer being accepted.

"It's just not good enough. The last thing a victim of a sexual assault needs to face is lengthy dithering by the very agency which is supposed to fund their counselling. It's simply unacceptable," says Lynne Pillay.

"The figures, released to me by ACC Minister Nick Smith, show decisions pending on 103 sensitive claims in Auckland in August - up from an average of four a month last December. Only five claims were accepted in August, compared to 55 in December.

"In Canterbury there were 63 sensitive claims awaiting resolution in August, while in Wellington there were 32 and in the Waikato 31 - all up from an average of four in the months from December to April. These delays are matched by declines in the number of claims accepted," Lynne Pillay said.

"Increases in the number of these claims awaiting decisions, and reductions in those accepted, are also evident in most other regions throughout the country.

"Sexual abuse counsellors are deeply concerned about the impact of the delays and so is Labour. Equally concerning are the comments from ACC today on Radio New Zealand, which suggest the agency is preparing to tighten the criteria around accepting sensitive claims.

"ACC Minister Nick Smith must provide an immediate explanation as to what is going on. Labour has already raised serious concerns about proposed changes to the delivery of ACC funded counselling for victims of sexual abuse.

"There have been smoke and mirror messages from the Government over the detail of these changes, due to be introduced next month. But it is clear they are designed to reduce costs through reduced counselling. It now appears fewer claims may also be accepted - and victims could be re-traumatised in the process as they face long delays waiting for an answer," Lynne Pillay said.

"The Government appears so focused on cost-saving, it has forgotten it is dealing with victims of serious crimes who don't deserve this appalling treatment."

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